Skinny Jeans Study Says It's Healthy to Wear Sweatpants

Flickr / nstaeck

Bad news for skaters, hipsters, and emo teens: New data shows that wearing skinny jeans is linked to back pain. But the good news is that you’ve now got a legitimate excuse to break out the sweats.

According to consumer research collected by the British Chiropractic Association, 73 percent of women have suffered from back pain because of wearing certain items of clothing, and the number one culprit is skinny jeans. That’s because outfits that are too tight or stiff limit a person’s range of motion. Not being able to move freely adds more pressure and strain to the back, neck, and shoulder, potentially increasing the risk of pain and injury.

“Whilst we are certainly not saying stop wearing your favorite clothes altogether like most things in life, moderation is best and there are easy ways you can reduce the impact on your posture and overall health,” BCA chiropractor Tim Hutchful said in a statement.

According to the study, other clothing items that affect back pain include oversized bags and those worn on one side of the body, coats with large hoods, high heels, and backless shoes.

In Mean Girls, Regina George's "friends" shamed her for wearing sweatpants. Too bad they didn't know that science supports Regina's fashion choices.


While the conclusions from the BCA study may make intuitive sense, keep in mind that it isn’t clear how many people were surveyed. It bears reminding that chiropractic practice is a focus on holistic health, and the strongest evidence supporting it involves treating back pain. Some people have questioned the legitimacy of chiropractic medicine — it’s considered a form of “alternative” medicine — but there is some research supporting its usefulness in treating certain ailments.

Conclusive or not, the study is a good reminder that clothing choices can affect physical well-being. Fortunately, not all is lost if you want to keep wearing skinny jeans — there are other ways to improve your posture and reduce back pain. First, try limiting the number of times you wear tight pants per week to give your back a break. By changing up your style, it shifts the stress on your body (and boosts your fashion cred, to boot). Wearing loose clothes will also let your body move around more freely. And if you must carry around a heavy handbag, take unnecessary items out, alternate the shoulder you wear it on, or wear a backpack to evenly distribute the weight across both shoulders.

“While overloaded and heavy handbags are a common culprit, some more unexpected items like skinny jeans can also wreak havoc – they restrict free movement in areas such as the hips and knees, affecting the way we hold our bodies,” Hutchful said.

You know what doesn’t restrict free movement in your hips and knees? Sweats. So next time people try to sartorially shame you for wearing sweats in public, tell them it’s because of science.

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